2017 Digital Trends for Hoteliers -Must Read!

The New Year welcomes a clean slate for new goals and aspirations for the year to come. These 2017 digital trends are key to upping your game in the hotel and lodging industry this year! 2017 is looking to be an exciting year in Wisconsin’s hotel and tourism industry and here are some of the helpful ideas and digital trends that are sure to get you noticed.

Domestic Travel

 The independent lodging industry is in for a treat in 2017. Domestic vacationing is one of the hottest trenSunny Country Road Sceneds of the year, and what an ideal trend for the hotelier! Travel agents in the United States are expecting to see an increase in domestic travel in 2017.  This means that your hotels, resorts and lodges could see increases in travelers staying at your properties, so how do you prepare? The first thing to do is realize that domestic travelers are looking for quick and easy trips. This means that weekend packages are going to be a hit. Partnering with local business to create packages to offer your guests, or offering incentives for booking at your hotel or lodge are two cost efficient ways to bring travelers to your hotel. Offering these in your website and integrated into your booking engine will help convert this coveted type of booking. Give it a try!

Look the Part 

Keep in mind that the website for your lodging property isn’t the only place that travelers are seeing who you are. Online travel agent websites such as TripAdvisor, Expedia, and Kayak are great places to get your hotel or lodge noticed by travelers. When your hotel or lodge is featured on an online travel agency site, there is a chance the traveler might not make it to your website before booking your hotel. What does this mean? It means that hoteliers need hedge their bets by looking their best on all websites promoting their hotels. Be sure to update and add recent professional photos to your online travel agency websites as well as your own website! Hoteliers that actively add current photos to their online travel agency sites saw increases of 138% in customer engagement. A simple task with a great return! By consistently updating photos to your own websites and to your booking agents’, the customer engagement can only rise.

Get Found

So your hotel can be found on a physical map but there is an even better way to get your hotel found by a huge potential client base. Google likes to rank websites based on their SEO (search engine optimization) rank, or the specific keywords that are used on your websites to get it noticed. So how do you get your property’s site noticed and found on the Internet? The first thing to do is Finger Pointing on a Mapto continue maintaining your website. Keeping your website current and updated will help you maintain control of what the customer sees when they visit your site. Next, you need to continue adding good solid content to your website. This means blogging about things that interest your guests and updating the content that is on your site. A helpful hint when blogging and adding content is to be as specific as possible! This means that instead of saying ‘hotel’ you will want to say ‘hotel in southern Wisconsin’. The more specific you are, the better luck you have of a search browser indexing your website content. The last key item to remember in regards to getting your website found is to keep up with the ever-changing world of technology. Updating your website to include the newest technology will only benefit your website when Google’s crawler visits and then decides who has earned the top spots on their search pages. If you can do these things to your website you are sure to see improvement and have guests finding you online.

Be Mobile

We warned you, the mobile era is here and there is no way to avoid it! In our blog Google Mobile, Goodbye Desktop—Hello Mobile Ranking, we talked about the importance of optimizing desktop websites so they can be easily accessible and user-friendly on mobile devices. One of the big trends for hoteliers to be aware of in 2017 is how the user utilizes both the desktop and mobile websites when booking. Travel agents are finding that nearly 90% of travelers jump back and forth from desktop to mobile websites when booking, making it critical for both mobile and desktop websites to operate with ease. What does this mean? The first thing to do is to ensure you also have a mobile-ready website for your hotel. Mobile-first design has actually taken over in priorities over desktop. Sites that are designed responsively, like the ones we create, do that mostly by default –and in tandem. That said, some final tweaking will still be needed make sure everything looks attractive on all devices and proper content is optimized for each.

By understanding these trends and maximizing this knowledge, hoteliers will start the 2017-year on a very strong foot! Interested in implementing one or more of these strategies? Give us a call, we’d love to help you with that.

Resources and recommended blogs: Words of VikramHotelMarketing.com

Google Mobile, Goodbye Desktop – Hello Mobile Ranking

As hoteliers, how often do you seriously consider the path guests take to find your hotel online?  Is it an easy path for them? One that quickly allows them to find what they need and ultimately book their stay? Does it differ depending on which devices they prefer?

Well if you haven’t considered this process, now is the time to do so. This month Google announced that they are changing how Google Search will function. Quite simply, in the world of ’Just Google it’, preference will soon be given to the mobile experience over the desktop one.

So what does this mean?  Right now Google ranks websites based on how your websites look on desktop and laptop computers, and then they rank your mobile websites.  As more users begin using mobile devices over traditional desktops to do online searches, the major search engine is now going to make mobile websites its primary focus for ranking.

Google G

For hoteliers big and small, why should we care? Well an article by eMarketer shows that over 52% of hotel reservations are being made on mobile websites in the year 2016, up nearly 44% just from this time last year! That means over half of your guests are booking their stays in your hotels on their phones and tablets instead of on a desktop or laptop computer. The simplicity and accessibility that mobile booking provides to travelers will only make these numbers increase faster and faster. So what should we do?

Here are a few helpful hints to be sure your mobile website is the best that it can be. How visually appealing and user friendly is your site when viewed on a smartphone? The easier it is to navigate for your guests, the higher you will rank! Hoteliers need to ensure that your mobile sites are free of broken links or unwieldy images that don’t properly translate from the desktop to mobile. The next thing to do is to make sure that your mobile and desktop pages are as similar as possible. Social Energizer uses only responsive design so that our mobile and desktop sites are the same by default. We “turn off” or substitute any images that do not display well on your mobile site to help keep your rating high and user experience at it’s optimum.

With Google switching the way that webpages are ranked, mobile websites need to be as similar to the desktop sites as possible to keep your rank high. Remember that Google likes links! Your desktop website should have links between your pages and links outside of your website to build credibility, and the same principle must occur on the mobile website!

At the end of the day the most important take away from the announcement made by Google is that hotel guests are using mobile devices to view and book at your hotels, they aren’t using computers like they were five or six years ago. Mobile websites are the new desktop websites, make sure your mobile website is navigable and easy to use, you never know, you might see an increase of heads in beds!

Information in this post was obtained by eMarketer, a credible ecommerce resource.

Google Trips – Organize Your Travel Easily

Google is continuously coming out with new technologies that make communication and organization easier and more convenient. Being organized and having a plan is vital to productivity in the workplace and when traveling, too. Enter Google Trips.

In mid September, Google launched a new travel app called Google Trips, which helps the everyday traveler and business professional alike when they are away from home. The app focuses on planning and organization, something that is right up my alley and something I needed to try.

I downloaded the app on my iPhone and it prompted me to sign in to my Gmail account. The next thing I know, a reservation popped up in my Google Trips app for an upcoming trip that I had planned. Google developed the new app to work with Gmail, taking any reservations from your inbox and putting them into your trip-planning app, pretty convenient and so easy to setup!

After downloading the app, I was playing around with the different tiles and instantly noticed what a great business opportunity was available for hoteliers and business establishments in towns big and small. The app is set up to plan activities for the area that you are visiting, taking any information from Google and incorporating it into your stay. For businesses that don’t understand the need to promote themselves through Google services like Google My Business this app is a great reason to get listed! Don’t have a Google My Business account? Check out our earlier blog, Independent Hotel and Resort Google Guide, on how and why you will want to set one up!

Just by being on Google, the app creates endless exposure for small and large businesses, here is an example.

After I checked in at the hotel and stopped at my room, I needed to find somewhere to eat. The only problem I had was that I hadn’t been to the area before and I wasn’t sure of what places were open or for that matter what was around me. I opened Google Trips and clicked on the food and drink tile to see what my options were. In just two seconds there were tons of places to go, all organized and categorized to make my search easier. Each recommendation has reviews and the hours of operGoogle Trips Mapation with a brief description of what you can expect for the environment and for the food.

I chose a local restaurant that I hadn’t heard of before to support local businesses instead of chains. While I waited for my meal, I picked out a café for coffee that next morning and I planned a few other restaurants that I wanted to visit before going home. The app allows you to “star” or save places that you enjoyed, or that you know you want to visit while on your trip. I added the café and a few restaurants to my saved places and then browsed around in the things to do tile.

In a matter of minutes, Google Trips provided me with tons of different local restaurants and café options. This was just one tile, the app allows you to look at local activities, shopping centers, small family owned and operated stores, you name it. Google Trips is just one benefit of promoting businesses on Google My Business. It will allow businesses to gain exposure and to increase traffic and business by bringing out of town guests to your establishment.

Google Search Ranking for Mobile-Friendly

You may be hearing about this on the news this week. There will be a new way that Google Search ranking for mobile-friendly devices occurs. Websites that are not mobile-friendly will be dropped from Google Search, whether you are on a mobile device or not.

On Apr. 21st, the Google Search algorithm is changing again.  Have you heard about their Penguin or Panda updates of the past? This update promises to be bigger. Google search plans to completely de-index websites that are not mobile-friendly. You can read more about it here. Mobilegeddon? I like it.

Just a note to those of you that have sites built and managed by Social Energizer. I wanted you to know, that in the past few weeks, I have personally checked all the sites that I am responsible for. I have found them all to pass the mobile-friendly test using your Google Webmaster tools accounts. It made me feel good, that because they are all designed ‘responsively’, they passed with flying colors.

An easy way to check it out yourself is to go to any smart phone and enter organic parameters for finding your website. In other words, use keywords, not the url, for finding your site on your phone. When it appears in the search screen, it will say Mobile-friendly in the prefix of the description, like I’ve shown below. That’s it… way easy.Social Energizer Mobile-friendly Websites

This is one more reason, why I say that WordPress websites work best for small business. The WordPress platform that structures your website is a continuously updating web platform. They saw the need to be mobile-friendly long ago, that trend started about the time the first smartphone sold.

As we track the mandates from Google and other dynamic variables (i.e. security) on a daily basis. You can rest easy knowing our proactive strategy positions your website for any upcoming trends. Keeping your web traffic safe and flourishing is important to us. Thank you for letting us serve you.

The Influence of Mobile Purchasing on Travel

The infographic below summarizes the behavior of mobile purchasing on Travel based on mobile users in the UK. This demonstrates why lodging managers should be checking to see how their websites and online booking engines appear on mobile devices -particularly tablets.

Here are the key findings on mobile travel purchases from Tnooz.

“The study also shows how key pricing is, with price comparison sites coming top in mobile travel activity and a quarter saying they make a purchase based on price.

Brand preference and price were given as the top two reasons for making a purchase with a third saying they already had a brand in mind.

More details are handily displayed in the infographic below but here are a few highlights:

  • Almost half of mobile travel searchers make a purchase with about a third completing it on their mobile device
  • 31% say they plan to purchase within a day while 60% say within a month or longer
  • Most mobile travel searches are conducted for flights (81%) followed by hotels (67%)
  • 55% of travel searchers say they are researching a planned purchase
  • More mobile travel research is conducted while at home – 83% for tablets and 46% for smartphones”

Mobile Infographic for travel

Nielsen surveyed 1,500 smartphone and tablet users for the study as well as drawing intelligence from its Smartphone Analytics Panel of 6000 Apple and Android users.

And just for fun, I’ll add this infographic in from last fall on mobile purchases within the US  from Business Wire.

Infographic for mobile travel purchases